161 A SEARCH IN SECRET EGYPT
realms less tangible to our physical senses, but we are none the less within their sphere of influence. They still watch the world which has been entrusted to their care; they still control the trends of human evolution, even though they no longer descend into visible earthly forms. I believe in the gods—as the ancient Egyptians believed in them—as a group of superhuman beings who watch over the evolution of the universe and the welfare of mankind, who direct the hidden destinies of peoples and guide thek major affairs; finally, who are leading everyone and everything towards an ultimate perfection.
These seven consecrated chapels in the temple witnessed the burning of fire and the sprinkling of water, the offering of incense and the postures of prayer; ceremonies which became idolatrous or spiritual according to the understanding and intent of those partaking in them. The man who thought these physical acts were sufficient substitute for inner virtues, thereby became an idolater; the man who made them symbolic remembrances of the devotion and sacrifices he would give to his Creator in his daily life, thereby became strengthened in true religion; while the priest, who used all these things as part of a system of magic which had descended to him by tradition, inherited a great responsibility, for he could call down devilish or angelic forces upon his congregation.
The masses were never allowed to penetrate to these seven inner sanctuaries whose vanished altars once shone with gold— indeed in most Egyptian temples the capacious interior courtyards were as much as they dared enter. Such was the exclusive character of this religion wherein priestly exclusiveness played the central part. I thought of the freedom of mosque and church, and I understand again why the priests, who had overreached themselves in their efforts to gain and maintain power, finally lost every shred of thek influence. "Freely ye have received; freely ye should give," was a sentence which did not apply to thek days. They took and gave with the utmost reserve and caution.
How strange were the mutations of time, I thought, for the sarcophagus of the man who built this place, the empty alabaster mummy-case of the Pharaoh Seti, ky over three thousand miles away in a little museum established in Lincoln's Inn